The Future of Transportation Comes to Pittsburgh: The Self-Driving Vehicle

The Intelligent Transportation Society (“ITS”) of America held its 25th annual meeting and exposition in Pittsburgh this past week (May 31 – June 3). Keynote speakers included Dr. Chris Urmson, Director, Self-Driving Cars at Google and Corey Owens, Head of Global Public Policy at Uber Technologies, Inc.

The future isn’t just around the corner, it’s here.  Approximately 2,000 transportation specialists were in attendance to share their visions of a future with connected-vehicle technology and self-driving vehicles.  This technology is coming faster than you may even imagine.

These technologies promise to reduce congestion, accidents and the overall inconvenience of getting around.  Soon cars will be able to transmit data, and share real-time information about their speed, road conditions and more.  Envision a car far ahead of yours providing information about a slippery patch of roadway, a sharp ramp curve, bad weather or road construction.  This knowledge would allow you to slow down or altogether take on a different route.  Vehicles of the near future will be able to talk to traffic signals to eliminate unnecessary stops and also help drivers operate vehicles for optimal fuel-efficiency.  The car you are driving (or the car that is driving you) will alert you about other vehicles ahead of you that may be traveling erratically or running.  Obviously, this data could drastically improve the overall safety of commuting, which in turn could save thousands of lives.

Greg Winfree, Assistant Secretary Of Transportation for Research and Technology, was quoted as saying, “This is why, earlier this month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx directed NHTSA to accelerate the timetable for its proposal to require V2V technology in new vehicles. He also committed the Department of Transportation to rapid testing to ensure that the wireless spectrum used by V2V is not obstructed by radio interference. And he has asked NHTSA to make sure our regulatory framework encourages the deployment of demonstrated traffic-safety innovations. These steps will support today’s safety revolution while making sure new technologies themselves are safe.”

Carnegie Mellon University, located in Pittsburgh, has been a pioneer in researching and developing traffic infrastructure and self-driving vehicles to improve overall safer travel.  The University has recently announced a partnership with UBER to further the development of long-term technologies and advancements that will result in safer and more reliable transportation for everyone.

“Pittsburgh has become an innovation hub for the country and really for the world when it comes to solving transportation challenges,” opined Paul Feenstra, Senior Vice President of ITS America, which is based in Washington, D.C.

While it is a critical moment in time for the industry, it is apparent that Pittsburgh will be on the forefront for transforming technology and revolutionizing transportation.  Self-driving vehicles are on the horizon and Pittsburgh is in the driver’s seat.

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